Independence at Home Saved Medicare $10 Million In Second Year

A pilot program that aims to expand in-home primary care for chronically ill patients continues to achieve care improvements and reduce Medicare costs.

The Independence at Home demonstration saved Medicare more than $10 million this year. On average, there was $1,010 per beneficiary saved this year among 15 practices and 10,000 Medicare beneficiaries, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Some of the participating practices include Cleveland Clinic Home Care Services, Doctors on Call, Housecall Providers, Inc. and VPA Milwaukee.

All 15 practices from the second performance year also improved quality in at least two of the six quality measures, when compared to last year. Four of the practices met the performance measures for all six quality measures, according to CMS.

CMS will also give incentive payments to seven practices for succeeding in reducing Medicare expenditures and meeting designated quality goals. The payments range from $1.4 million for Doctors Making Housecalls to $360,000 for VPA Lansing.

The demonstration began in 2012 and was originally authorized for three years, but then was extended through September 30, 2017. There are also talks of the program becoming permanent if the most recent bill, proposed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), is passed.

“The independence at Home demonstration is a patient-centered model that supports providers in caring for chronically ill patients in their own homes,” Dr. Patrick Conway, CMS acting deputy administrator and chief medical officer, said in a press release. “These results continue to support what most patients already want — the ability to have high quality care in the home setting.”

Last year, in the program’s first year, participants saved over $25 million, an average of $3,070 per participating beneficiary, according to CMS.

Aside from saving money, the beneficiaries of the program last year saw fewer hospital readmissions within 30 days, had their medications identified by their provider within 48 hours of discharge from the hospital and used inpatient hospital and emergency department services less for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and pneumonia. These results were also seen in the second year results.

We contacted Mathematica Policy Research to learn more about the difference in results from the first to second year of the demonstration, but did not hear back as of press time.

Written by Alana Stramowski